After a trial of cardboard wedge packs for Pret A Manger’s made-in-store sandwiches in 1999, Buckingham Foods launched the first pre-packed cardboard wedge sandwiches for a major retail customer in 2000, when the retailer’s premium sub-brand range made its debut.
For several years after that the role of cardboard wedge packs for sandwiches was limited to major retailers’ premium tiers, as the packs looked classier, but were significantly more expensive.
But this changed in the summer of 2005, when M&S switched all its sandwich wedges to cardboard packs. This was on the basis that all of its products are theoretically premium.
Since then, many retailers’ sub-ranges have moved into cardboard and, as a specialist in premium and healthy sandwiches, Buckingham has made significant investments in carton-sealing technology.
Furthermore, the cost of cardboard wedges, while still well ahead of plastic, has become more competitive. Less than 10 years ago, we used to run 13 thermoformers in our business, but we now have three.
It is likely that, in a year’s time, we might have even fewer. While the plastics industry has responded to the environmental benefits of cardboard with the development of new PLA thermoformable baseweb and top-film, it is very doubtful whether this will reverse the march of card wedge packs.
Nigel Hunter is MD of sandwich firm Buckingham Foods
Each month, British Baker will ask an expert to give his or her views on packaging trends